Monday 24 October 2016

JJ Abrams defends sexual violence in Westworld

Published 29/09/2016 | 07:01

JJ Abrams arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of Westworld (AP)
JJ Abrams arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of Westworld (AP)

JJ Abrams has defended the level of sexual violence in his new television series Westworld, insisting the show's makers did not set out to "dehumanise women".

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The Hollywood director joined cast members from the sci-fi Western, based on Michael Crichton's 1973 film about a futuristic theme park, at the show's world premiere in Los Angeles.

The opening scene of the series - which stars Sir Anthony Hopkins and Thandie Newton - implies that a lifelike female robot has been dragged off to be raped, prompting critics to question the amount of sexual violence on the HBO show and others such as Game Of Thrones.

Abrams, who is an executive producer on Westworld, admitted the series may be "too intense" for some viewers.

He told the Press Association: "I would say the criticism is accurate but you can't tell a story about oppression without depicting the oppressed.

"If it was a movie I would say: 'Damn it, they're 100% right.' It's a series and it goes somewhere for a reason.

"No one was going into this thinking 'let's do a show that somehow dehumanises women'. This is a show, I would argue, very much about the opposite.

"I would say to anyone who says the show might be too violent and exploitative ... and frankly anyone else, keep watching."

Abrams, who directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens and 2009's Star Trek, described Westworld as a show about "morality".

"It's very intense, I think too intense maybe for some people," he added.

"The beauty of the show is it's about what it is to be conscious, what it is to be good, what it is to be human or at least alive."

British actress Newton said she was satisfied with the way the writers of Westworld had handled sexual violence in the story.

She told the Press Association: "I didn't have any reservations because I knew how it was going to be depicted.

"I knew how it was going to be central to the narrative - I mean central. It was not going to be wallpaper, let's put it that way.

"Westworld covers some really challenging territory ... I think it will create moments for conversation which are so valuable for people."

:: Westworld can be seen on Sky Atlantic and Now TV from Tuesday, October 4.

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